SCOTTISH inmates could be allowed to Skype their families from jail under new plans being considered by prison bosses.
The Scottish Prison Service is currently undertaking a project to look at enhancing prisoner access to IT and to improve communication with their families.
But critics have hit out at the plans, saying it will make Scottish jails feel “more like home” than a “place to fear”.
One option being considered by the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is a “prisoner’s telephone service, video-conference facilities and secure messaging.”
The move comes after prison chief Colin McConnell, Scottish Prison Service chief executive, said inmates should have access to mobile phones in their cells.
Earlier this year McConnell insisted that phones can reduce the risk of re-offending by helping prisoners keep in touch with their family.
Scottish Prison staff are also carrying out a review across all its prisons to see if it is feasible to limit access to technology, including TVs, to certain times of day.
Prisoners in some of Scotland’s jails currently enjoy en-suite bathrooms, satellite TV and keys to their cells.
Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Our motivation should be how to make prisoners’ time inside more worthwhile.
“But instead of suggesting full-time work, which would boost their own rehabilitation chances and give something back to society, proposals such as this are being floated.
“There are perfectly adequate visiting time slots available, and this latest idea is moving things in the wrong direction.
“Jails are supposed to be a deterrent, so making them more like home will do nothing to make them a place to fear.”
In a joint statement, the Scottish Government and SPS said: “There is currently a project underway with SPS that is looking at how to enhance prisoner access to IT.”
Prison chief Colin McConnell caused controversy earlier this year by saying inmates should have phones in their cells.
The Scottish Prison Service chief executive insisted that phones can reduce the risk of re-offending by helping prisoners keep in touch with their family.
McConnell, 52, told Holyrood’s justice committee that he is a “fan of TVs in cells” and believes it brings “a load of positives”.
Last month prison chiefs came under fire after dishing out medals to some of Scotland’s most notorious inmates at their own Olympic Games.
Killers, kidnappers and drug barons larked around in wheelchairs and wore blindfolds at the paralympics event at open Castle Huntly prison near Dundee.
Criminals uploaded pictures of themselves taking part to their Facebook pages.